I feel like it always takes a few episodes for American Horror Story to find it’s footing each season, but with this week I can safely say I like where the show is heading. The main conflicts and themes are becoming evident, and the groundwork has been set so that the show can fool around in its own playground. I feel like last season’s “Asylum” took at least three episodes to get to this point (likely because it had too many subplots), but I feel like “Coven” has arrived there much quicker. In other words, I liked this episode. Let’s get to it, shall we?
We open in the dank Louisiana swamps. Two ‘gator trappers are patrolling the marshes collecting their kills when they hear Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” playing eerily on a radio and come upon a camp belonging to Misty Day, the witch who supposedly “died” in the last episode. Misty is not too happy about their killing of god’s innocent creatures. When they draw a gun on her (bad idea) one of the strung-up “dead” reptiles comes alive, biting into one of the trapper’s arms. The other trapper tries to run, only to have an alligator clamp over his face and drag him into the swamp. The hunters have become the hunted.
Cordelia gathers the girls downstairs for morning gathering. Zoe is still hung up on what happened to Kyle, but Madison reminds her that he was living on borrowed time anyway, due to Zoe’s “black widow status” (toxic vagina in case you forgot). Meanwhile we see that Fiona has Madame LaLaurie tied up in her room, and is trying to find out how she was able to stay alive for so long. LaLaurie is terrified of the modern world, shrieking at the ring of a cell phone, for example. Unable to get much information out of her, Fiona goes down to meet with the other girls.
In a quick flashback, we see how Queenie wound up at the school. Working at a chicken shack in Detroit, she gets in an argument with a customer, which escalates to her sticking her own arm in the fryer to burn the bossy customer’s arm. In the present we learn that Queenie is a descendant of Tituba, the first woman in Salem to be accused of Witchcraft (true fact, by the way).
The meeting is interrupted by two detectives who wish to speak with Madison and Zoe. A lot of witnesses saw them at the party (particularly Madison with the frat boys) and are curious about the bus crash, since they may have had a motive to mess with the brakes. The two girls deny it, but then the detective asks Zoe why she went to the hospital to visit one of the boys (visible on the security camera) who then died in the same manner as her last boyfriend. Zoe cracks, spilling the beans completely and even admitting that the entire house is made up of witches. Fiona interrupts and dismisses the two girls. As Fiona speaks with the detectives, she spits in a glass of water and asks them each to drink. The first detective drinks immediately, but the second is resistant. Fiona concentrates her powers on him and the man shudders, trying to resist, his nose bleeding as she promises to “turn his brain to scrambled eggs.” Finally the second detective gives in as well. Fiona makes them both drop the investigation using her Jedi mind tricks, and the “problem” seems to be resolved.
Madison, meanwhile, is not happy at Zoe’s inability to keep her cool. As she argues with Zoe, Fiona stops them both, throwing them across the room with a swish of her arms. She is particularly angered with Zoe, calling her soft and emotional, and reminds them that “even the weakest among us are better than the best of them” before storming out.
Madison decides to take Zoe on a little field trip…to the morgue. She breaks in using some lock-picking skills she picked up from one of her movies (not the “Alohamora” charm?) and within moments they are inside looking at the frat boys’ dead bodies. Only…the frat boys are torn to pieces. Kyle’s poor head, for example, sits decapitated on a table. Madison plans to bring him back to life using the “best boy parts” to attach to his head, creating the perfect boyfriend using a resurrection spell she snuck away from Cordelia.
Cordelia herself, meanwhile, is in a hospital with her husband (witches can be married, of course!). Apparently she and her husband have been trying to have a baby, but they have had no luck despite all the prescriptions the doctor has given her. Cordelia’s husband finally mentions that maybe they should use witchcraft, though Cordelia resists. Using magic to fulfill her whims is something Fiona would do, after all, and she doesn’t want to play God. Her husband reminds her that they are already playing God by letting the doctor do what he does. Perhaps he has a point…
Fiona returns to Madame LaLaurie, offering her a leg of fried chicken. They finally get to talking, and Madame LaLaurie is shocked to learn she’s been in the ground for 180 years. LaLaurie explains what happened to her in flashback (part of which we saw in the last episode). Loveau rescued all of the black men LaLaurie had strung up, killed LaLaurie’s daughters and husband, and then buried LaLaurie alive.
Back at the morgue, the two girls sew up the various frat boy limbs together to recreate Kyle (he looks a bit like Frankenstein’s monster), and begin the ritual (in my favorite scene so far on the show). However the process is horrifying to Zoe and Madison. Breathing in the fumes causes them to hallucinate and freak out, and it’s unclear what is real and what is in their heads. Unfortunately when they finish the incantation it seems to have failed. Zoe wonders if they aren’t powerful enough. Madison heads to the car, but Zoe lingers behind, wanting just one last moment to apologize to dead Kyle.
Outside however, Madison sees a morgue worker coming and ditches Zoe to save her own skin. As the worker enters Zoe ducks away and hides. The worker is startled by the stitched-up body on the table, covered in pentagrams and black ash. He waves his flashlight and discovers Zoe, questioning her, when Franko-Kyle RISES FROM THE TABLE and attacks him!
At the schoolhouse, Nan is trying to read a book, but “something” is bothering her. She runs upstairs to Fiona’s room to confront Madame LaLaurie, who is “thinking to loud.” Nan sets LaLaurie free, telling her to get out.
Meanwhile in the black neighborhood of the Ninth Ward, Fiona gets her hair done at a salon. However she is really there to see Loveau, as this salon belongs to her. Fiona talks with Loveau about their respective powers, and Fiona finally admits she wants Loveau’s ability to stay forever young (despite some heavy exposition it’s a pretty great scene thanks to these two powerhouse actresses going at it). Loveau wonders what Fiona could possibly offer to make her happy, but Fiona plays coy, though we know it’s Madame LaLaurie.
In her laboratory, Cordelia gathers up the right bits of potion, and soon she and her husband engage in a ritual and consummate their love, hoping to have a baby. Since this is American Horror Story, this involves a circle of fire and a giant egg that cracks open to let loose dozens of snakes. Also, Fiona’s eyes grow black. I’m sure nothing bad can come of this in later episodes.
Zoe drags Franko-Kyle out of the morgue to the worker’s car (I guess carjacking is just a minor offense now that she’s responsible for three deaths). She tries to explain to Kyle that he died and came back to life, but Kyle can only lurch and groan like a weird monster. Suddenly Misty Day (!) appears in the backseat, having sensed the life-giving magic and been drawn to Zoe and Kyle.
Zoe and Kyle stop by Misty’s swamp cabin, where Misty heals Kyle’s suture wounds, likely helping the show save money on makeup artists for future episodes. Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” is playing on her radio, and in another great scene, Misty explains to Zoe (who has never heard of Stevie Nicks) how Nicks is also a witch…you can tell from her lyrics (in reality there are those who believe Nicks to be a witch in real life). It’s interesting to note that Misty is a witch who lives all alone in a swamp, contrasting with the coven who all work together in a fancy house. Also I won’t lie…Lily Rabe is once again wowing me with one of my favorite characters yet again on the show, after her great turn as possessed Sister Mary last season. Misty promises to look after Kyle, and asks that Zoe return soon.
In a quick scene, Loveau reveals to the audience that LaLaurie’s minotaur is still alive..and looking very much like an actual minotaur…yikes!
Fiona finds LaLaurie waiting outside her old house, lamenting about the state of the new world. LaLaurie tells Fiona how “Hell is real” being trapped in that box for years, with nothing but her own thoughts of her dead girls rolling through her head. In complete opposition to Fiona, LaLaurie longs for death to come after all these years. As the odd couple walk down the street of New Orleans together, we cut to black.
If you missed last week, have a look at that recap here!